In Memoria e Amicizia: Heysel 28 Years Later

Handout

Another year, another opportunity to remember the lives lost at Heysel and learn from the mistakes made that day.

We saw the Italian fans crying, and they were banging on the side of our bus when we left the hotel. When we left Brussels, the Italians were angry, understandably so; 39 of their friends had died. I remember well one Italian man, who had his face right up against the window where I was sitting. He was crying and screaming.

You feel for anybody who loses someone in those circumstances. You go along to watch a game. You don't go along expecting that sort of ending, do you? Football's not that important. No game of football is worth that. Everything else pales into insignificance.

--Kenny Dalglish

It was a bad time to be a football supporter, and it was a perfect storm of sorts, with a long list of contributing factors leading up to a tragedy-from the violent actions of Roma Ultras against traveling Liverpool supporters at the previous European Cup final to the crumbling Heysel stadium itself, a venue the club officially requested not be used for the match and a situation further worsened by allowing mixed areas amongst opposing fans. Not that any of that makes it better. Not that any of that serves as an excuse for what would follow.

Taunts and chants were exchanged outside the stadium, leading to missiles being thrown by Juventus supporters within that supposed neutral, mixed area, leading in turn to a group of Liverpool supporters charging through a makeshift chicken-wire fence at their Italian counterparts who fled towards a support wall that crumbled under the pressure as a panicked crush formed. The steel surge barriers in the area were left warped and deformed by the weight of hundreds of Juventus fans who tried to retreat en masse and found no exit. It was a match that ended with 39 dead and over 400 injured. It was one of the worst examples of football hooliganism and terrace culture, given a chance to spring to life after multiple failures of organisation and a bloody set of circumstances.

A year after violence in Rome, with dozens of Liverpool fans stabbed by roaming gangs of ultras while hotels locked them out of their own rooms and the police stood aside, there was an unspoken state of war that existed between the most violent segments of English fandom and any Italian supporter who might happen to get in the way. As a result, Heysel not only saw sections of Liverpool's support eager to seek out some kind of revenge, but hooligans from other English supporter groups from West Ham to Millwall to Newcastle coming along with an eye towards evening the proverbial score. The Belgian police, despite being warned of the heightened risk of violence, were nowhere to be seen until after the fact.

In the end, Juventus won the European Cup 1-0 that year in a match many would rather forget. English clubs would be banned from the continent for five years; Liverpool would be barred for six. And 39 people who went to a football match didn't go home from it.

**This post is Noel's work from last year, and there's little reason to change or alter either the content or the sentiment.**

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join The Liverpool Offside

You must be a member of The Liverpool Offside to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at The Liverpool Offside. You should read them.

Join The Liverpool Offside

You must be a member of The Liverpool Offside to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at The Liverpool Offside. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9353_tracker